84040 - History of Libraries and History of Bibliography

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Ravenna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Library and Archive Science (cod. 9077)

Learning outcomes

The cognitive acquisition of the main types of bibliographic tools and the theoretical stages of the history of the bibliography as a discipline makes the students able to evaluate the bibliographic coverage and the level of the logic of organization and physical disposition of the documents of a library. Students will acquire awareness of the strategic role played by libraries in the selection, conservation, transmission and use of written memory, knowing how to identify paradigms, models of reference and value, depending on the type studied.

Course contents

The course aims to provide an in-depth knowledge of the history of libraries and of the history of bibliography, considering the two disciplines connected in the unitary framework of the history of written culture.

The course will be structured in two parts:

1. History of libraries. Deepening of themes, concepts, and aspects considered relevant for the History of libraries: the foundation and development of libraries and their types; the dispersion and reconstruction of book funds; personal and private collections as a bibliographical paradigm; the origin of public library model; the architecture of ancient book halls; the social and cultural role of libraries. These themes will be dept through the case of study on the travel literature of Grand Tour.

2. History of the Bibliography. Illustration of concepts and bibliographic tools and works; elements of analytical Bibliography for the basic knowledge of the ancient book as an artifact; analysis of the main bibliographic works to grasp the historical evolution and the cultural and intellectual scope: the millennial bibliographic chain up to the Liber de scriptoribus ecclesiasticisJohannes Trithemius, the 'Bibliotheca Universalis' by Conrad Gesner.


1. History of the Bibliography:

Alfredo Serrai - Fiammetta Sabba, Profilo di Storia della Bibliografia. Milano, Sylvestre Bonnard, 2005, p.1-82.

  A text of your choice:

a) Andrea De Pasquale, Che cos’è la bibliologia, Roma, Carocci, 2018.

b) Edoardo Barbieri, Guida al libro antico. Conoscere e descrivere il libro tipografico, Milano, Le Monnier, 2006.

c) Valentino Romani, Bibliologia: avviamento allo studio del libro tipografico, Milano: Sylvestre Bonnard, 2000.

2. History of libraries:

Enrico Pio Ardolino, Storiografia delle biblioteche. Genesi, stabilità e fratture di una tradizione di studi, Pesaro, Metauro Edizioni, 2020, p.1-103.

Fiammetta Sabba, Viaggi tra i libri. Le biblioteche italiane nella letteratura del Grand Tour, Pisa - Roma, Fabrizio Serra editore, 2018, p.1-87, 143-146, 247-254.


** Non-attending students will add one of the following books:

Alfredo Serrai, Gabriel Naudé, Helluo Librorum, e l’ Advis pour dresser une bibliothèque, a cura di Fiammetta Sabba e Lucia Sardo, Firenze, FUP, 2021.

Fiammetta Sabba, Angelo Maria Bandini in viaggio a Roma (1780-1781), Firenze, FUP, 2019 pdf gratuito, download al link https://fupress.com/catalogo/angelo-maria-bandini-in-viaggio-a-roma-(1780-1781)/3981


Teaching methods

Frontal lessons; classroom exercises of research and bibliographic description.

The teacher will make the material available for revision and further study on the Virtual course page (ask the teacher for a password to access it).

** For attending students: A paper may be assigned by the teacher which will be the first topic covered during the exam.

Assessment methods

The exam consists of an oral interview starting from the presentation of a topic chosen by the student or from a research assigned.

The teacher will evaluate the mastery of the content and of bibliography of the course, the ability to synthesize and analyze the themes and concepts, the use of an appropriate language, and also the critical and methodological abilities matured by the student.

You will notice that lack of training, inappropriate language, lack of orientation within the bibliographic materials offered during the course will be evaluated negatively.

Teaching tools

Practical activities:

- Commented projection of original bibliographic texts.

- Commented projection of images of historical and contemporary libraries.

- Analysis of ancient volumes.

- Research exercises given by teacher.

In the 'Virtual teaching resources' section - which can be accessed with a password that the teacher will communicate at the beginning of the lessons - the basic teaching material will be available from the start of the course (exemplary and in-depth Power Points, links to videos and handouts provided by the teacher). Furthermore, the recordings (or the link to the recordings) of the first two actual lessons of the course (which will be held in the classroom) will be available on Virtuale, so that everyone (attending, non-attending, workers, etc.) will be able to retrieve the orientation information for the course.

Please note that initiatives (educational visits, seminars, conferences, book presentations...) indicated and/or organized by the teacher are to be considered supplementary to the teaching and will be recognized during the exam.


All student who are affected by learning disability (DSA) and in need of special strategies to compensate it, are kindly requested to contact Prof. Sabba, in order to be referred to the colleagues in charge and get proper advice and instructions.


Office hours

See the website of Fiammetta Sabba


Quality education

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.